3 Questions to Ask Before Lent {This is How Holy Meets Hard}

3 questions for lent

I know, I know. Didn’t we just get done with Christmas? (Not that I had a Christmas wreath hanging on my door for all those weeks. Not that I just this Sunday finally managed to get off my tush to deconstruct that Christmas wreath so it could be properly composted. And by “get off my tush,” I mean my very sweet husband did it for me. Nope. Didn’t happen.)

But alas! Time keeps zipping along, and let’s face it. TWO WEEKS!! Two weeks from today, we will be knee-deep in Lent.

Just speaking from my personal standpoint here (and I already admitted my Christmas wreath sloth to you all, so you know, take it with a grain), but my most successful Lents have been those that I actually took time to pray over and plan before the ashes hit my forehead. What do I mean by “successful?” I mean a Lent where I felt ready to welcome resurrection. I mean a Lent where I let go enough to let God. I mean a Lent where needs reworked themselves to wants, and the Spirit got all up in my Kool-Aid and showed me another way than my way. A Lent where soul work started and stuck.

I like those Lents. The ones where I draw near and He draws near, and holy happens.

The ones where I know deep in my bones that I’m different, was made to be different, can be different, and all because of Him.

Because where Jesus dwells, sacrifice is never purely suffering. At least, it’s not meant to be. When I’ve got Jesus, it’s a gift. The letting go, the laying down, and the losing- it’s all about Him: him lifting, leading, raising up and glorifying. That’s the way He rolls.

tracks in snow

I’ve done the standard issue: the meats and sweets. For 40 days, I’ve given up gossip, and that was good. One year, I kicked addiction. (Bye-bye, internet. It was really hard living without you those 6 weeks, and I’m glad we worked things out and got ourselves onto healthier terms these days.) I’ve given up my goals, control. Once, I even went vegan. Some of it rocked. Some of it rolled. Some of it just plain sucked. But always, always there was Jesus cheering me on, taking all my petty teeny-tiny sacrifice and transforming it glory-raised to gift.

I don’t think there’s any perfect formula. No give-this-up-every-year-and-without-fail-you’ll-grow-in-faith. Because like I said, the time just keeps on ticking, and it’s always changing, isn’t it? The seasons never seem to last long enough to get a foothold and then we’re rolling right into the next. (Where’s my roadmap/manual/cheat code for this one?) Your success won’t be mine. Which is why my Lent won’t be yours. And that’s okay, because we’re still in this together as long as we’re connecting at the heart. And the heart is…us. All of us. For all of Him.

This Lent, let’s heart-to-heart. Let’s ask each other the hard questions and join hands for the journey. Our paths might not look the same, muddied footsteps all jumbled up, but we’re heading in the same direction.

How do you get ready for the 40-day haul? From now until the race begins, let’s train. Dig down deep and lay it bare. Let’s start by asking ourselves, really asking. Let it simmer. Let it sink.

1. What in my life am I most afraid to do or to face?

2. What in my life causes an unhealthy attitude in me if it becomes threatened?

3. What in my life, if taken away, would challenge my value or identity?

Sheesh. Phew.

Have I got some soul searching to do.

This–here, in the questions–is where holy meets hard.

Sometimes it hurts, but I’m clinging hard to trust because the only way to heal is to peel back the layers, let the Light shine in and shake things up. That’s how I grow, and I’d rather be a mess for Jesus than just about anything else this world’s selling cheap.

maple bud

I’ve got this wacky idea. 

This Lent…I’ve been pillow-talking plans with my much-more-prudent-than-I husband, and so far he hasn’t put the kibosh on it. I can’t wait to share it with you, but in the end it’s only details. Just the icing on the cake.

The big stuff, the real stuff is hidden in those questions, and it’s written on your soul. On mine. That’s the stuff of sanctity. Grappling with those dragons, those demons, and all the dirt of living long inside this world. Letting Him lead us in and out of it all and on to holy…that’s where we need to start.

So I’ll leave you with the list, and the questions, and we’ll grapple with the answers, and once we do, we’ll reconvene.

I’ll tell you my secret. And we’ll see how Jesus crazy we can get this Lent.


And just so you don’t feel like you’re floundering without a life preserver, can I just offer you some solid stuff to hold between your hands? Because it’s not just us on this journey, it’s all of us. All us Jesus lovers. And these gals, they’ve got some words of wisdom for the road.





and some resources for the kids:



and a whole great bunch of activities and ideas right here:



And meanwhile, don’t forget to stop by the first-ever giveaway post for your chance to win these gorgeous beeswax candles!!!



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